Most Americans Still Not Eating Enough Fruits, Veggies

In 2000, the U.S. government set modest goals for the amount of fruit and vegetables people should eat, but a decade later the majority of Americans are not even close to reaching those thresholds, health officials said Thursday. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, 67.5 percent of adults ate fruit less than two times daily and 73.7 percent ate vegetables less than three times per day. The goals of Healthy People 2010 were for 75 percent of people to eat at least two servings of fruit and 50 percent to eat at least three servings of vegetables every day. "Over the last decade we have looked at behavioral intervention, like counseling to get people to include their fruits and vegetables," said report co-author Dr. Jennifer Foltz, a researcher in the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "But it's not so easy."

"In the next decade, we are going to work on making the healthy choice the easy choice," she said. New programs will involve promoting gardening, farmer's markets and bringing more fruits and vegetables into schools and workplaces, Foltz said. In addition, Foltz said there could be programs to help retailers increase the availability of fruits and vegetables through incentives like tax breaks as well as making it easier for low-income people to afford fresh fruit and vegetables. Foltz noted that low-income Americans are more likely not to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices, which is why programs specifically targeted at this population are needed.

The report is published in the Sept. 10 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Despite efforts to increase healthy eating, over the past decade there has been a 2 percent decrease in fruit consumption and no change in the vegetable consumption, the researchers found. No state has yet met the Healthy People 2010 goals, Foltz said. In fact only one state, Idaho, rose in the amount of fruits and vegetables ate while 10 states saw a decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption. The 10 states where significant decreases in fruit and vegetable consumption were seen are Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the report.
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